Geneva — Private companies, civil society, government officials, and academics discuss the options for using Africa’s natural resource wealth to benefit its populations more fairly.
The world must do more to tackle corruption in Africa's oil, gas, and mining sectors, said Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the Africa Progress Panel, at a consultation meeting on Wednesday in Geneva.
Organised by the Africa Progress Panel and part of a methodical consultation for next year's Africa Progress Report, the one day meeting brought together an unusual combination of representatives from the private sector, civil society, government, and academia. The annual report highlights key development issues for Africa together with policy recommendations, and next year's report will be on oil, gas, and mining.
"Corruption and weak governance are critical issues for Africa's oil, gas, and mining sector," said Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the Africa Progress Panel.
"These are human failings, but the world must do much more to tackle these issues not just within African governments but also in the foreign companies that pay the bribes and distort their accounts for profit at the expense of African peoples," he said.
Africa's natural resources represent tremendous opportunity for the continent, and African countries, foreign companies, and the world community must do more so that revenues from natural resources can be used to pay for health and education, participants agreed.
"Because we all need Africa's immense resources, the continent now has an extraordinary opportunity to seize this century and use its natural wealth to build healthy, educated and dynamic societies," said Bob Geldof, musician, businessman, advocate, and Member of the Africa Progress Panel, also present at the meeting.
"This will take three of Africa's other great natural resources – patience, brains, and courage," he said.
Riots in South Africa, US and European legislation, and the growing influence of China were among the other issues discussed by participants, who also included Botswana's former President, Festus Mogae, and representatives from oil and mining companies, Oxford University, the African Development Bank, and the Africa Progress Panel itself.
"I'm happy to be a part of today's consultations as a Member of the Africa Progress Panel and as a citizen of Botswana, a stable middle-income country which has benefitted tremendously over the years from its diamond wealth," said Linah Mohohlo, Governor of Botswana's Central Bank and a Member of the Africa Progress Panel.
"Everybody in Africa should be able to enjoy whatever natural resource wealth their country has, but citizens should expect the rewards to come only with responsibility, hard work, and patience," she said.
Next year's report builds on the 2012 Africa Progress Report, Jobs, Justice and Equity. The report warned that growing inequality in Africa was undermining its otherwise extremely impressive progress.
"Africa has some of the world's fastest growing economies, but this growth needs to create more jobs and to reduce inequality more effectively," Michel Camdessus, former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and Member of the Africa Progress Panel, said.
"We have come here today to find ways in which Africa's oil and mining sectors can make much, much stronger contributions to the reduction of poverty and inequality," he said.